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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
National reforms in higher education


14.Ongoing Reforms and Policy Developments

14.4National reforms in higher education

Last update: 17 April 2024


Updating the higher education strategy

The Government has reviewed and supplemented the "Change of Pace in Higher Education Medium-Term Policy Strategy" and adopted the related Action Plan for 2021-2024. By its Decision No 1499/2023 (16.XI.), the Government 

- amended the strategy, adding a chapter on "Monitoring and Evaluation" and performance indicators for socio-economically disadvantaged students;

- adopted the Action Plan for the strategy for the years 2021-2024;

- and agreed on the detailed report on the Action Plan for the strategy for the years 2016-2020.

The documents are available here (in Hungarian):

Fokozatváltás a felsőoktatásban középtávú szakpolitikai stratégia 2016
Fokozatváltás a felsőoktatásban középtávú szakpolitikai stratégia 2016 2021-2024. évekre szóló cselekvési terve
Részletes jelentés a „Fokozatváltás a felsőoktatásban középtávú szakpolitikai stratégia 2016” stratégia 2017-2020. évekre szóló cselekvési tervének megvalósulása


Renewal of teacher training

In order to preserve and expand the competences of kindergarten teacher training in higher education, the ministry, by amendment of the legislation, created an opportunity for kindergarten teachers to obtain a teacher's diploma with a two-year training.

In the field of teacher training, the opportunity was expanded for obtaining a teacher's diploma in the master's cycle with shorter trainings (2-4 semesters), for applicants with appropriate pre-qualification. It has become possible for applicants for 2-4 semester teacher's master's programmes to start and continue their studies with a state scholarship, in addition to the statutory support framework after their scholarship for the previous programme has been used up.

Moreover, through the amendment of the Decree 8/2013 of the Ministry of Human Capacities, students can acquire a teacher’s diploma, in addition to existing or ongoing university studies – in accordance with international practices –, either with complete professional knowledge with 2 semesters of methodological education, or with a combination of professional and methodological education in 3 semesters. This is financed by the state. Students could apply for these correspondence and full-time courses in the supplementary admission procedure in August 2023. The number of applicants for initial teacher training in 2023 is up by 75% compared to the previous year.

The range of institution maintainers involved in the Klebelsberg Training Scholarship Programme has been further expanded, thus, students participating in the teachers training program can fulfil their obligations linked to their scholarship in practice schools of public higher education institutions.

The government allows universities and colleges to set up teacher training centers, in which half of the members of the board responsible for the training curriculum are practising teachers.

Strengthening the links between higher education and VET

The Government has amended the Higher Education Act  to allow talented students in vocational secondary education (technikum) to enter into a preliminary student status with higher education institutions in their final year. This gives graduates the opportunity to continue their studies, in addition to obtaining a qualification.

Act LXXXV of 2023 on the amendment of certain laws needed to strengthen the interconnection of universities and research institutions and the economy, and on the amendment of certain laws on adult education and culture (2023. évi LXXXV. törvény az egyetemek és a kutatóintézetek, valamint a gazdaság összekapcsoltságának erősítéséhez szükséges egyes törvények, továbbá egyes felnőttképzési és kulturális tárgyú törvények módosításáról)

Facilitating the possibility to change learning pathways

With the amendment to the Higher Education Act, the government will extend the possibility of changing learning pathway (re-registration) during higher education studies, which was previously only possible between degree programmes in the samefield of study. The measure will also allow for shifting to another degree programme in related fields of study, thus facilitating flexible career choices for students. 

Act LXXXV of 2023 on the amendment of certain laws needed to strengthen the interconnection of universities and research institutions and the economy, and on the amendment of certain laws on adult education and culture (2023. évi LXXXV. törvény az egyetemek és a kutatóintézetek, valamint a gazdaság összekapcsoltságának erősítéséhez szükséges egyes törvények, továbbá egyes felnőttképzési és kulturális tárgyú törvények módosításáról)

The strengthening of doctoral courses

Scholarships are planned to be increased within the New National Excellence Programme with 3.5 billion HUF, doctoral students can receive 100 to 200 thousand HUF per month for academic excellence. In addition, the universities can use their additional resources to supplement the scholarships in model-changed, church- and state-maintained institutions.

The government encourages the promotion of the economic utilisation of innovation and scientific results, and to this end, among others, it amended the Government Decree on Doctoral Programme to the effect that among the doctoral programme requirements and the conditions for acquiring a doctoral degree, the social and economic utilisation of the doctoral student’s scientific research activity, in particular its innovative nature, must be taken into account. The Government provided approximately HUF 5.1 billion within the framework of the Cooperative Doctoral Programme; if the student working at the company is also enrolled in a doctoral programme and the results of his or her research have social and economic utilisation, a scholarship of 400 thousand HUF may be awarded.

The concept of co-operative doctoral education has also been introduced in the Higher Education Act to encourage doctoral studies in cooperation with companies, to link universities and the economy and to strengthen the knowledge economy. During their studies, doctoral students will be able to apply their research findings to topics that can be used by the relevant market and industry players, thereby enhancing the competitive position of their employer companies.

Act LXXXV of 2023 on the amendment of certain laws needed to strengthen the interconnection of universities and research institutions and the economy, and on the amendment of certain laws on adult education and culture (2023. évi LXXXV. törvény az egyetemek és a kutatóintézetek, valamint a gazdaság összekapcsoltságának erősítéséhez szükséges egyes törvények, továbbá egyes felnőttképzési és kulturális tárgyú törvények módosításáról)

If young employees working for companies are also enrolled in a doctoral program, they can deduct their social contribution; in addition, their company can ask for a 60 thousand HUF tax relief per month. If a student working in the business sector participates in self-funded doctoral training, the state pays the half of the tuition fee, and companies are encouraged to take the other half.

To increase the number of students enrolled in doctoral programmes, the government made the number of places more flexible, especially in the fields of technical, natural sciences, engineering, IT, agriculture, medicine, and health sciences.

Several higher education institutions, based on an agreement, can establish a doctoral school, which can function as a joint doctoral school.

Based on the government’s decission, time spent in doctoral studies now count towards the pension; the state assumes the first half of the pension contribution, and the universities are encouraged to assume the other half. The most talented students can continue their studies in a doctoral program after the bachelor's degree.

The government has awarded over HUF 4 billion to 150 applicants from 17 Hungarian universities under the Cooperative Doctoral Programme  (Kooperatív Doktori Program). The winning applicants will receive a net monthly grant of HUF 400,000 for 24-43 months to work on their research topic in cooperation with a company within the institutional framework of a doctoral school of a Hungarian university. Almost 90% of the grants were awarded to students in the MTMI+ fields (maths, sciences, engineering, information technology, agricultural sciences, medicine and health sciences, and arts). Doctoral students are thus supported in building a scientific career based on market needs, while at the same time supporting the R&D and innovation activities of their company, thus strengthening Hungary's innovation competitiveness.

Higher Education Scholarships

In Hungary, 8 out of 10 students receive a state scholarship, which means an average support of HUF 6 million per capita per year. In the academic year 2022/2023, the number of scholarship programmes provided from the Hungarian state budget and the number of scholarship programmes provided from the higher education institutions' own and other sources: 431 scholarship programmes, which provide excellence, social, research, mobility grants to approximately 280,000 Hungarian and foreign higher education students in state-recognised higher education institutions in Hungary, amounting to approximately HUF 100.6 billion.

New internationalisation programme 

With a budget of HUF 10 billion, the government has launched a new exchange programme called the Pannonia Programme, which will provide opportunities for some 8,000 students, professors and researchers to study and research at universities in Europe and beyond, including Asia and North America, on the basis of international agreements concluded by the universities. In addition, more than 200 students will receive scholarships of excellence to study at the best universities in the world. Under the new scheme, credits earned at foreign universities will be fully recognised, i.e. studying abroad will no longer delay the completion of university studies. The programme will focus on fields of study relevant to the Hungarian economy or society. The resources of the Pannonia Programme will be available to the trust funds run universities at the beginning of 2024, and the earliest the university citizens will be able to travel abroad will be in the autumn semester of the 2024/2025 academic year.

János Neumann Programme

The János Neumann Programme, adopted by the Parliament in June 2023, is one of the priority strategic measures of the Ministry of Culture and Innovation. The focus of the Programme is to strengthen the knowledge-based economy through the development of existing institutions and the implementation of new programmes.

Through the János Neumann Programme, The government aims to move Hungary from 21st place in the EU to the top 10 by 2030, and from 35th place to the top 25 innovators in the world by 2030. To this end, a new structure of the scientific and innovation ecosystem was defined, in which the cooperation of universities and the economy plays a prominent role. The National Innovation Agency (NIÜ) was established to create a flexible organization that has a catalytic role in the Hungarian innovation ecosystem and is capable of accompanying and supporting innovative ideas from their conception to marketing. The NIÜ will become the number one custodian of ensuring the economic and social utilisation of resources used in the field of innovation and science policy.

Furthermore, within the framework of the János Neumann Programme, a set of 9 groups of complex measures was developed to achieve the objectives described above. Measures include, among others, support for the internationalisation of Hungarian research and supporting innovative ideas to reach the market; focusing innovation investments on healthy living, on green transition and on digital transition and security; creating a predictable career path for Hungarian researchers; giving priority to Hungarian businesses and inventors in patent procedures; and promoting innovation activities in scientific carrer path as well. In order to create a suitable platform for cooperation between universities and the economy, Science and Innovation Parks are created and the support of innovation is expanded to the entire Carpathian Basin. As part of the programme, the government, in cooperation with the National Research Development and Innovation Authority, has announced a new HUF 35 billion innovation support programme (Fókuszterületi innovációs projektek támogatása).

Fine-tuning of the quality and performance-based financing system

As some time has already passed since the introduction of the new funding system, the public task financing agreements were reviewed at system level and the indicators were fine-tuned by the ministry responsible for higher education, further strengthening the performance-based approach. In consultation with the higher education institutions, the number of students admitted to certain majors was redesigned. Emphasis is placed on a higher proportion of fields given priority by the state (STEM, agricultural sciences, medicine, health sciences, sports sciences and teacher training). 

Renewal of the admission systems

In the 2023 admission procedure, higher education institutions could decide on the majors for which they require an advanced or intermediate-level secondary school leaving examination as basis for the admission score calculation and what threshold for admission they apply for each major. In the 2023 general admission procedure, a 10-year record intake of 94,785 people was registered.

Another novelty of the admissions procedure, which has been fully electronic since this year, is that, applicants can now apply from a mobile device.

Language test and language skills

In order to alow higher education institution to define the required level of foreign language for its programmes, the requirement for a state-recognised language exam as a condition for the issuance of the diploma was abolished. The higher education institution must provide foreign language education with a focus on their respective profession as part of their curriculum. The institution of higher education may decide in its curriculum and syllabus, as well as in its study and examination regulations on the framework of education in a foreign language; on the announcement, admission and completion of subjects and curricular units in a foreign language or completing courses (partially) abroad; and the organisation of education, in whole or in part, in a foreign language. When launching a major or vocational training in a foreign language, the higher education institution may require a state-recognised language exam in the language of the programme, as a condition for admission to the programme.

Strengthening dual training

In order to strengthen dual training, the Government has made it possible to introduce ex-post accreditation for the Dual Training Council in 2023.


Development of doctoral programmes

In the spring, based on the strategic agreement signed with the National Association of Doctoral Students (NADS) and in cooperation with them, measures were introduced in order for doctoral students and doctoral programmes to effectively increase the number of researchers, patents, and innovators. The ministry was able to fully meet the requests of the NADS.

“Tanítsunk Magyarországért” (Let's Teach for Hungary) Programme

The Let’s Teach for Hungary mentoring programme encourages higher education students to take social responsibility by mentoring disadvantaged students in primary and secondary education. In doing so, they not only help them, but also set an example of the value and benefit of learning. Students receive a scholarship from the higher education institution participating in the programme, they attend an induction course which serves as a basis for their work, and upon completion of the mentoring programme, they prepare a detailed report on their experience.

Scholarships for disadvantaged students

The “Útravaló” (Pathfinder) programme provides support for disadvantaged and multiply disadvantaged pupils and students from the last year of basic school (ISCED 1-2) until the HE graduation. The scholarship programme has four sub-programmes: Path to upper secondary school, Path to profession, Path to graduation, Path to diploma. Due to the governmental 2.5 billion HUF subsidy, more than ten thousand children and young people can benefit from this performance-based scholarship programme, the amount depends on the academic results of the pupil/student gained at the end of the previous school year. The programme has also been announced for the academic years 2022/23 and 2023/24. (In Hungarian:


Trust fund model in Higher Education

Hungarian higher education institutions – colleges and universities – may have various maintainers and can operate in different maintainer models. The public trust fund model was created in order to have a more open model responding to the needs of both the economy and public services and relying on innovation and talent. The maintainer of 21 previously state-owned universities have been changed to such trust funds. As of September 2021, more than 180,000 students began their studies at a model-changing institution, which is nearly 70% of the students.

Quality and performance-based financing

To finance higher education institutions operating under the management of public interest trust funds performing public duties, the government introduced quality and performance-based financing as of 1 September 2021. The essence of this is that the financing takes place in a contractual framework, that is, on the basis of the principles and rules of funding for the higher education activities stipulated in the 25-year framework agreement established between the minister responsible for higher education and the maintainance entity, and under a detailed public task financing agreement for a period of 6 years during the term of the framework agreement.

The previous student-based support was supplemented by support for scientific, research and artistic activities, as well as support based on quality and performance-based funding. Indicators of the expected quality of the higher education activity are specified in the agreements. The indicators support the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 4 – Quality education, such as reducing dropout rates; increasing the rate of post-graduate employment that helps credit progress; increasing the number of publications, as well as research and development activities. Additional indicators promote internationalisation, talent management, university sports and social incusion. Indicators are monitored.

Furthermore, based on this model, the government has developed a long-term quality and performance-based financing system also in relation to the higher education public tasks of certain established churches with a comprehensive or strategic agreement.

In the past six years, Hungary has doubled spendings on financing higher education; in 2022 the funds allocated of universities – which can be spent on wage increases and research infrastructure development – has increased to more than HUF 1,000 billion, which places Hungary among the TOP 5 EU member states with its spending of almost 2% in proportion to GDP.

The first successes of the model change are already tangible; while four years ago there were 7 Hungarian universities among the global top (TOP 5%), two years ago there were 9, but by today there are 11. Scientific performance increased by a total of 26% in the case of model-changing universities. In the past year, the number of students dropping out of university decreased by nearly 3%. In the past four years, the number of high-quality international publications has increased by 78 percent, and an increasing number of high-quality research is being conducted at the institutions. In the past years, the number of patent applications has also shown a significant increase; since 2018 their number has quadrupled. Moreover, the international attractiveness of Hungarian higher education is outstanding, as 42,000 foreign students are studying in Hungary.